Across the area

22 vehicles' tires cut at Bon Air

The tires of 22 vehicles parked at the Bon Air Apartments on Walton Way were slashed between late Tuesday and early Wednesday. On at least 12 vehicles, the right front tire was slashed, according to Richmond County Sheriff's Office reports. Lt. Tony Walden said no suspects have been identified.

Man facing murder charges out on bond

A man facing charges of murder in the death of an emaciated relative was released on bond this week.

Buel Peterson, 55, and his wife, Jeanne Peterson, 30, are awaiting trial in Richmond County Superior Court. On Monday, Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet signed an order releasing Mr. Peterson on his own recognizance. District Attorney Ashley Wright did not oppose bond.

The Petersons have been jailed without bond since manslaughter charges were upgraded to murder in the Oct. 21 death of Christina Baxter, 30, who was deaf, mute, and unable to walk or feed herself. She weighed 46 pounds at the time of her death from complications of malnutrition.

Mr. Peterson, who has diabetes and had a leg amputated while in jail, has extensive family connections and a job waiting. He has serious medical issues that would have cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars if he remained in jail, said Sam B. Sibley Jr., the public defender.

Police arrest man in thefts from mailboxes

Richmond County investigators have arrested a man in a rash of thefts from mailboxes.

Earnest Johnson, 54, of the 1900 block of Valley Springs Road, was arrested Thursday on felony forgery charges, Investigator Michelle Walden said.

Mr. Johnson is accused in several thefts from homes in the area. In those cases, police think someone stole checks from mailboxes and used a process called "washing" to remove the ink. The thief then made out the checks for new, larger amounts, Investigator Walden said.

Pair wanted in theft of $3,000 in gasoline

Authorities have identified two people who they think are responsible for taking more than $3,000 in premium gasoline in the past week.

Calvin Jackson, 30, and Katasha Willingham, 33, are both wanted on charges of theft by taking over $500, according to Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Tony Walden.

The two suspects are accused of pumping gas after rigging gas pumps with a screwdriver. Investigators also think they are approaching other customers and charging them a $30 fee to fill up their tanks, Lt. Walden said. Mr. Jackson and Ms. Willingham were spotted driving a black, 2001 Ford Excursion with chrome trim and a Florida license plate. Anyone with information can contact the sheriff's office at (706) 821-1080.

Bicyclist tries to take cash register drawer

Police say a man attempted to steal cash from the register of Krystal restaurant on Walton Way early Thursday by riding his bicycle to the drive-through window and reaching inside.

The suspect, who was described as between 50 and 55 years old and riding a bicycle with a basket on the front, opened the small sliding window and grabbed the cash register drawer, according to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report. When he was unable to remove the drawer, the man fled west on Walton Way, the report stated.

Hurricane evacuee not guilty of murder

A man who fled to Augusta with his family to escape Hurricane Katrina was acquitted of murder charges this week.

A Richmond County Superior Court found Benjamin J. Lewis, 24, not guilty of murder in the Dec. 9, 2005, shooting death of 26-year-old Edward Burns.

Defense attorney Lee Prescott of the public defender's office had argued to the jury that Mr. Lewis was present, but he wasn't the shooter. Mr. Burns was shot during a street brawl involving some 20 people.

Child molester will be jailed for eight years

An 18-year-old Augusta man who pleaded guilty to child molestation was sentenced to eight years in prison Thursday.

Once Victor M. Buggs completes the prison term, he will serve 12 years on probation. Mr. Buggs pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court, admitting he molested a 10-year-old girl on Oct. 28.

Murder conviction gets man life in prison

An Augusta man convicted of murder last month was sentenced Thursday to life in prison plus five years.

A Richmond County Superior Court convicted Eddie Lee Freeman Jr., 24, of murder and weapon charges in the Sept. 12, 2006, shooting death of 21-year-old Terrance D. Moore.

Two other men face murder charges in the case. Mr. Moore was shot in an Augusta hotel room after an argument broke out over the terms of a drug deal.